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AMERICANS, CANADIANS MAKE MORE CROSS-BORDER TRIPS

As a growing number of Americans crossed the border into Canada in February to do some shopping, they passed an increased number of Canadians heading into the United States to do the same.

Statistics Canada's monthly snapshot of international travel released Monday cites a rise in same-day travel by both Canadians and Americans. For the month, just over 2 million Americans made quick roundtrips across the border, the highest number of such excursions since June 1981.

At the peak of U.S. same-day travel to Canada, the Canadian dollar was worth 83 cents (U.S.), a dime more than its current value.

This marks the second month in a row that a slight increase in so-called "reverse cross-border travel" has been tracked. In December 1995, 1,913,000 same-day trips were counted. The seasonally adjusted count increased to 1,991,000 in January and rose to 2,043,000 in February.

The January-to-February increase was 2.6 percent.

In the period from January 1994 through this February, the quick trips, generally associated with cross-border shopping activity, have increased 41 percent. A 12.6 percent rise was recorded between February 1995 and February 1996.

Meanwhile, Canadians' excursions to the U.S. by car also have increased, up 2.1 percent to 3 million trips. It's been five months since 3 million same-day trips were tallied, with numbers hovering at approximately 2.9 million quick visits since last October.

In December, a seasonally adjusted 2,983,000 same-day trips were recorded, with January's headcount reaching 3,031,000. In February the count was 3,096,000.

Local bridges reported a total of 2,481,174 same-day trips by Canadians in February, for a 13.6 percent increase from February 1995. The Lewiston-Queenston span reported the greatest increase in same-day traffic, up 43.8 percent to 96,646 trips, compared to 65,818 in the prior year.

The Rainbow Bridge recorded the Niagara Region's second biggest February increase, with same-day travel up 27.2 percent to 112,171 trips, from 88,195 in 1995. Quick international trips were up 7.6 percent on the Peace Bridge, climbing from 96,270 to 103,562.

Only the Whirlpool Bridge saw a decline in traffic -- a road construction-related dip of 47.9 percent from February 1995's 42,528, down to 22,169.

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